Erik Jones made it look easy as he claimed the checkered flag in the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway. But it wasn’t. He had some stiff competition from Ryan Blaney for most of the race.
Jones was able to get out of pit road with the lead just in front of Blaney on the last round of pit stops after a caution on lap 125. From there, Blaney used lapped traffic to close the gap on Jones and went three wide for the lead on lap 184 in an attempt to charge for the lead but got loose coming out of the corner. The rear right wheel on Blaney’s truck made a smooth black tire tread mark on the track as he brought the truck out of a slow slide to avoid any contact with Jones. There was minimal contact as Jones was caught in the middle of the action with the lapped truck of Justin Lofton on the outside. Jones was able to reclaim the lead and stayed there until the flagman waved the checkered flag on the stand.
Jones would have to battle his teammate for the first part of the race to be able to have the top spot. Jones’ Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate, Darrell (Bubba) Wallace, Jr., who won the pole for the race. Wallace was out front for the first 41 laps.
A spin by Dustin Hapka brought out the first caution of the race on lap 40 which set up a restart between Jones and Wallace. Jones chose the outside lane and made it work as he took the lead from Wallace.
Jones stayed out front even after a caution involving Timothy Peters and Ron Hornaday, Jr. on lap 63. It appeared as though Peters thought he was clear of the No. 30 of Hornaday, but Hornaday caught Peters’ bumper which caused Peters to hit the wall. Both trucks sustained damage in the incident but continued on. Then, Peters retaliated and sent Hornaday spinning which brought out the caution. Peters went into the garage while Hornaday’s crew tried to piece his truck back together on pit road. Peters would return to the race many, many laps later.
Ryan Blaney fought hard throughout the entire contest. By lap 104, lapped traffic worked to the Blaney’s advantage and he captured the lead from Jones. Once he found clean air, he opened up a 2.8 second lead on Jones. Blaney stayed out front for the next 21 laps when a caution slowed the field. Eric Caudell went around on lap 125 and Blaney brought the field down pit road. His crew had a bit of an issue during the stop and Jones was able to get out of the pits ahead of Blaney and Jones went on to win the race.
The lowest Ryan Blaney ran the whole race was fourth.
Matt Crafton had a solid night with a top three finish. Last year’s champion battled Ryan Blaney in the beginning of the race and ran third until Blaney took back that spot. Crafton hung in the top five until making a pass on German Quiroga on lap 176 for the third spot. Quiroga had been running in the third spot after the last round of pit stops.
…about German Quiroga.
He pancaked the wall on lap 67 on the restart after a few caution laps. As heard on FoxSports1, he radioed his crew that the contact tightened up his truck and he kept running. He ran good enough to place fifth. Joey Coulter passed him in the closing laps of the race for the fourth finishing spot.
The top ten: Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Matt Crafton, Joey Coulter, German Quiroga, Ben Kennedy, Jeff Choquette, Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick, John H. Nemechek.
With Erik Jones’ win, Kyle Busch Motorsports has the seventh win on the year out of the nine races marked off this season.
In a post-race inspection, Jones’ No. 51 was found to be too low in post-race inspection for the second race in a row. NASCAR will evaluate the situation further next week.
The championship points shook up after this race. Matt Crafton assumed the lead and Ryan Blaney jumped to second in the standings from fourth. Crafton leads by two points. Johnny Sauter fell from the lead to third, German Quiroga sits in fourth and Ron Hornaday, Jr. rounds out the top five in points.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers will now prepare to get dirty on the dirt oval at Eldora Speedway for the second running of the 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic. That race is set for Wednesday, July 23 at 9 p.m. ET.